It might be difficult to get grass to grow after seeding a new lawn. If you’re new to this, you could wonder does grass seed need to be covered? The seeds may not get enough moisture and may dry out if there is no grass to help them. Covering the seeds can help keep them moist and prevent drying out, allowing them to sprout more quickly.
High winds or birds in your garden can also prevent your grass seed from developing uniformly. However, you must cover grass seed with the right material or risk causing more harm than good.
In our guide, you can see if grass clippings are suitable and what other ways you can cover your existing lawn to fill in bare spots. By the end, you’ll know enough to lay seed across your entire lawn area and use the suitable material to retain moisture and add protection. (Read What Temperature Is Too Cold To Water Grass)
Can You Use Grass Clippings To Cover New Grass Seed?
Will grass seed germinate on top of soil is a question often asked?
While it may be tempting to spread grass seed throughout your lawn and think that is all you need to do, unfortunately, there is more to it, even if some seeds grow without help.
Sadly, you’d be wasting your money if most of the grass seed doesn’t germinate and would end up as bird food or be blown away.
Below is all you need to answer “Will grass seed grow if not covered?”
Covering grass seed is essential if reseeding bare spots in your yard in late summer. Your seed is vulnerable to the elements and birds when not protected by existing grass.
The seeds could have some protection if you have existing grass, yet they won’t germinate unless they have good soil contact.
Why does the seed need covering?
There are several reasons not to expose your grass seed to the weather.
Germination is sprouting a seed and might take days or weeks. A seed needs specific things to germinate. The soil needs to be at the right temperature, but it also needs to be moist.
Grass Seedlings Growing
A moist and warm seed will sprout. Without enough water, grass seed will not sprout, and the most seed will dry up without mulch or top-dressing. (Learn Can You Spray Roundup Before Rain)
Even if your seeds germinate, they may not be fully rooted, leaving your grass seedlings vulnerable.
Too thin roots hinder grass from reaching moisture and nutrients below the surface, and your mower will pull your seedlings up rather than cut the blades.
Preparation is key to good new lawns. Testing the soil’s pH will help you determine if you need to add anything to get it to the recommended pH range of 6.2-7.0.
Most hardware stores stock inexpensive pH test kits. If needed, add lime to your yard to raise the pH.
Knowing what your lawn needs (and doesn’t) can help you get better outcomes and save you money on fertilizer and treatments. Money wisely spent if you are serious about lawn care.
Aeration is beneficial for yards with heavy clay soil or high foot activity. Aerating your lawn will help it loosen up and enhance good contact with the soil. Contact, water penetration, and airflow enable grass plants to grow deep roots.
Aeration creates pockets of loose soil in the soil structure to allow grass seed to grow deeper into the soil and produce stronger roots.
For modest jobs, lightly rake to remove the top soil layer enough for the grass seed to germinate.
Mulch Options to Cover Grass Seed
When it comes to protecting and keeping your newly planted grass seed moist, you have a variety of alternatives.
Each has its own set of benefits and drawbacks, and what works best for you might not work best for someone else.
Remember that even a quarter-inch of compost or soil can give enough protection.
Compost or Top Soil
Spreading a layer of screened compost or topsoil on top of your new grass seed is among the simplest ways to cover it.
For modest projects, either product is available at garden centers, or your local nursery or box store can arrange a bulk delivery for you if you have a larger yard.
You can use seed spreaders or lawn rolling drums to spread topsoil or compost, spread your starter fertilizer and seed, then top-dress and water thoroughly. (Read About Goat Head Weed Killer)
Grass clippings are an excellent alternative to straw or mulch since they mix the best of both worlds, but you must spread them evenly and not too thickly.
Before spreading seed, bag your grass clippings and let them dry. Then, lightly spread them on the lawn along with your grass seed.
The budget-friendly option of clippings will decompose over time, start releasing water and become part of the soil. If you maintain it thin, you won’t suffocate your seedlings.
While grass blades do not grow, stolons are frequently plucked out of the lawn during mowing. If a node survives and falls onto moist soil, it can root and grow into a new plant.
Wheat Straw Mulch for Grass Seeds
One of the most commonly used materials used to cover newly planted grass seed is straw. It’s a cost-effective option, but produce sure you choose a kind that’s reasonably free of seeds that could cause weeds in your yard.
Straw of oat, wheat, and barley straw are all excellent choices. However, because pine straw includes terpenes, a chemical that can alter the growth of surrounding plants, it can be problematic.
You can, however, use an older variety of pine straw that has lost its terpenes. A simple and inexpensive way to safeguard your grass seed is to place a thin layer of straw over it.
Rake the soil to soften the top layer and prepare your site before spreading your seeds, and then work the seed in with the back of a leaf rake after broadcasting your starter fertilizer and seed.
Choose clean mulching straw that has no seed or you could produce weeds in the lawn’s soil without realizing it.
Compost is a great way to cover new grass seeds for a low-cost green option. Kitchen scraps, leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, and other organic material from your home can all be used to make compost.
However, it should be carefully screened so that it may quickly break down and pass nutrients to the seedlings.
Before spreading your compost to your seeds, sift it through a sifting screen to separate the material that hasn’t decomposed yet from the mature compost that is ready to use.
Cover your grass seed with a quarter-inch layer of compost to offer nutrients and help it retain moisture to get the most outstanding results.
Mulch for Grass Seed
If you want to keep moisture in new grass seeds, mulch is another good option.
If you’re concerned about your new grass’s ability to grow, a mixture that includes mulch and fertilizer is a good option.
Spread a light layer of your selected mulch to the seeded area in a uniform layer, except for pages printed on glossy paper that will biodegrade over time. Use 1/4-inch of sawdust, light peat moss, or shredded newspaper.
A biodegradable seeding mat will not slip down the slope if your lawn is inclined. Along with the seeds, it has its own mulch. (Read About Centipede Grass Seed Head)
Plastic film is an excellent alternative for straw, compost, mulch, and other soil amendments if you prefer to sow your new seeds directly into the soil.
Polyethylene film is a large sheet of plastic spread overseeded areas and secured with pegs or large rocks.
To keep the soil from becoming too warm, use a clear covering instead of black or any dark hue.
You may need to lift the film during the hottest periods of the day if the temperature beneath the sheet gets too warm.
Remove the film as soon as you see the grass grow beneath it.
Are Grass Clippings Good For Lawns?
We are frequently asked if grass clippings are good for lawns and what to do with them. Clippings are good for your lawn, and you may use them to grow a healthy lawn via “Grasscycling.”
The most widespread misconception is that clippings cause thatch buildup, which harms grass. Luckily, this isn’t true.
Even between regular fertilizer treatments, grass clippings can successfully fertilize your lawn.
Why are grass clippings good for my lawn?
Grass clippings are good for lawns because they act as a natural fertilizer. Clippings contain the same nutrients (particularly nitrogen) and water as the rest of your lawn.
Leave your lawn clippings on your lawn to decay and return water and nutrients to your lawn’s soil. This promotes grass growth. However, long grass clippings pile up and take longer to disintegrate, leaving mounds of grass everywhere.
What Happens If You Mow Over Grass Seed?
Grasscycling is a simple way to use your grass clippings’ natural fertilizing ability. Follow these techniques when mowing to get the most out of grasscycling:
Cut at the Right Length.
Clippings should be around 1/3 the height of your grass. For example, you want 1-inch-long clippings for a 3-inch height lawn, so mow when your grass is around 4 inches tall.
Use the Right Equipment.
Grasscycling works best with push and mulching mowers. Next, choose an electric or gas mower that can cut your grass uniformly.
Keep Your Blade Sharp.
Sharpening your mower’s blade can promote equal mowing and better clipping distribution.
To spread clippings better, mow back and forth rather than in a single path.
At this stage, you can either leave your grass clippings on the ground, or you can use them as an alternative to the other mulching methods.
Bag your grass clippings prior to spreading seeds and let them dry. Then, lightly spread them on the lawn along with your grass seeds.